Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Oceania-fication of Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Regent Effectively Run Solely By Oceania Executives

I know that many people, including Mark Conroy, have been a bit bitter and off-put by my claims over the past two years that Regent Seven Seas Cruises pretty much no longer exists as a DISTINCT entity/brand and that it is, little by little, being subsumed within Oceania Cruises.

Today that process has gone yet a little further. According to a Prestige Cruise Holdings press release (PCH owns both Oceania and Regent Seven Seas cruise lines):

While Frank J. Del Rio, remains chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Bob Binder, formerly the President of Oceania Cruises, has been promoted to Vice Chairman and President of PCH thereby putting him in the position of now overseeing both Oceania and Regent Seven Seas including the global expansion of the PCH brands and maintain relationships with several of the company's largest retail partners.  Bruce Himelstein, formerly with Ritz Carlton and then Kerzner International, (and who had nothing to do with Regent Seven Seas) has been appointed president of Oceania Cruises and succeeds Binder.

Meanwhile, Victor Gonzalez, executive vice president of passenger services for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will step into an expanded role and report directly to Del Rio. His responsibilities now include all aspects of call center management, yield and revenue management, training and development, and guest relations. Howard Sherman, senior vice president of revenue management for both brands, will now oversee air services and continue to report to Gonzalez.

Frank A. Del Rio (fondly known as "Frank Jr."), who is responsible for hotel and land programs and shore excursions for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will assume the title senior vice president of port and destination services, with operational and relationship responsibilities for more than 350 ports worldwide. Del Rio will now report to Robin Lindsay, executive vice president of vessel operations for PCH

Let's review, the above confirms that Oceania executives now run literally every aspect of Regent Seven Seas Cruises from passenger services, hotel and land programs, guest relations, training, call center management and even revenue management now belongs in the hands of those who have run Oceania Cruises.  It is, to be sure, curious that Mark Conroy remains out there as the alleged President of Regent Seven Seas when, as reported in Terry Breen's blog, he talks about what some of the coming changes to Regent will be (elimination of a World Cruise, elimination of most gentleman hosts, elimination of Signature's specialty restaurant, including pashminas and binoculars in upper suites -yeehaw!) and, interestingly how he seems to be unhappy with some of the prospective changes which the actual management appears to be moving towards...like higher yields by increasing single supplement charges.

And, let me be clear, I am not picking on Mark Conroy.  To the contrary, it is absolutely clear to me that he is essentially the last remaining vestige of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and as long as Oceania Cruises believes there is a marketing advantage to keeping him around it is going to do it.  He may not be doing much else, but he does what Oceania wants him to do.

And now you may return to your Regent cruise...where if you pay enough you get to board early, book your specialty dining earlier, book your tours earlier, get use of a pashmina and binoculars, and even have a faux butler.  It is so, how do I say it?  Oh, yes:  It is so Oceania.

BTW, remember the hype about if you paid the new higher rate on Regent you would get a "free" pre-cruise hotel night?  I just booked some guests on Oceania for June 2012.  Do you know what they were offered?  You guessed it:   A "free" Prue-cruise hotel night and transfer.  It sounds so, how do I say it?  Oh, yes:  It is so Regent Seven Seas.

OK, now even I am confused.  What is the real difference between Regent and Oceania especially when considering Oceania's new Marina/Riviera ships (and the departure of at least the Insignia)?  Oh, yes.  This one I have:  Regent is inclusive and more expensive because it is marketed that way.  Effectively nothing...and I mean nothing...else.

The Oceania-fication of Regent Seven Seas is just about complete.  To me that is a good thing.  Because I believe Oceania Cruises is a very good product.